Thanks to our student Kayla for being our guest blogger this month!
Never Rush the Healing Process!
By: Kayla Caban (Simmons College DPT student)
A few years ago I was lucky enough to travel to Ireland to work with the physiotherapy students of University College Dublin (UCD) regarding Gaelic football players and the injuries that they receive while playing the competitive natured sport.
We quickly learned that the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)has seen a high prevalence of soft tissue injuries. The most common soft tissue injury seen are muscle strains, particularly hamstring strains. This type of injury is common due to theextremely fast paced nature of the game, requiring sudden changes in speed to beat or catch the opposing players, which predisposes players to a hamstring injury. Significant muscle fatigue in the second half of matches also increases the risk of hamstring injuries, which is inherent in severe endurance sports like Gaelic football.
Gaelic football players, on average, sustain more than one injury per year and 35% of these injuries are previous injuries that are reoccurring.The elite levels of the GAA of both hurling and football have programs implemented to help prevent and reduce the amount of these injuries; however, the sub-elite levels do not have the same resources and therefore have been seen to have a higher rate of hamstring injuries. For a lot of the younger levels, parents of the players volunteer as coaches, which means there can be a vast difference in the knowledge of the game and the susceptibility of the players to injuries.
Our goal as Simmons College students was to implement a hamstring strain prevention and rehabilitation program to help teach the coaches and payers about preventative training. Along with implementing rehabilitation programs we also wanted to educate the coaches, players, and parents about what exactly a hamstring injury is and the signs and symptoms that can occur with a hamstring injury. We also wanted to make sure that they were aware of how long they need to rest in order to maximize healing and prevent future injury. Lastly, we wanted to educate these populations about how to avoid overtraining in order to make sure that they did not to jump into training that is too vigorous; instead they need to gradually build up their training level in order to avoid spikes in training levels as this is commonly associated with an increase in injury. We also learned that 35% of all injuries occur during training sessions, showing how important it is to warm up before a practice. Gaelic football players tend to get back into the game before their body/injuries are fully healed, which makes re-injury rates increase, showing how injury prevention education is very important!
Our overall vision was to promote injury prevention throughout the club level GAA sports. We did this by creating a presentation and a pamphlet for the coaches/players. The pamphlet contained general information regarding hamstring strains and included; what is a hamstring strain, signs and symptoms, causes and risk factors, rehabilitation process and criteria to follow to return to play. The pamphlet is displayed below:
One of the most important keys to take away from the information listed above is that before any activity, it is important to warm up properly in order to increase blood flow to the muscles for effective stretching, which can reduce the risk of injury. Another important take away is that it is extremely important to let your body rest after an injury. I wanted to share this information to the patients of GirlFit, not only to inform you about what I learned about hamstring injuries along my trip to Ireland, but to make it known how important it is to listen to your body! A lot of athletes are so concerned about returning to their sport after an injury that they try to rush the healing process, which can actually make the road to recovery a lot longer or even cause secondary injuries. So if you are reading this and you can takeaway one thing, I encourage you to give your body time to heal, you’ll thank me in the long run!
1.) Flynn S. 2 Most Common Gaelic Football Injuries and How to Prevent!. Flynn Medical Exercise. 2017. Available at: https://flynnmedicalexercise.com/2015/10/18/gaelic-football-injuries/. Accessed April 5, 2017.
2.) Valle X, L.Tol J, Hamilton B et al. Hamstring Muscle Injuries, a Rehabilitation Protocol Purpose. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015; 6 (4). doi:10.5812/asjsm.25411.
3.) Worrell T. Factors associated with hamstring injuries. An approach to treatment and preventative measures. Sports Med. 1994 May; 17(5):338-45.